South Africa Day 08

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When I get up, I look for the bat, but it's gone. It must have recovered from it's kamikaze stunt.

Not so much toothache last night, and I was in the car by 0432. The plan this morning was to go up the main road, the H4, in the direction of Lower Sabie and then before getting there split off and go east to the S28 dam where I saw the lions last night.

It's dark as usual when I start, and the sunrise behind me is quite pretty.

My first sighting of the day, 14 minutes from the camp, is an elephant. It's still reasonably dark but I catch the black hulk, and so I stop to watch for a few moments.

7 minutes later six rhino cross the road just in front of me. That's a sight.

And then 10 minutes later, a leopard crosses the road in front of me. It's my lucky day. It goes behind a bush but doesn't come out the other side. So I reverse back, and think I see it layed down in the grass. I confirm this with my binoculars. After a while it gets up and walks into the bush. I follow it for a while, but it gets deeper and I loose it. This one was all mine as the other car didn't see what I was looking at, and was off beforfe I could tell him.

Two leopards in one week. That's good.

28 minutes and there's a line of cars. Wow, I'm so lucky today. This time it's lions on the side of the road. There's a pair here, and just a little bit further along the road there's another male and female. I ask someone who's in the prime position how many, and he says 5. I think he also said that these two and the other two were mating but were not performing because of all the traffic. I think that's what he said but I sometimes have difficult in understanding white South African English! (I had noted that they had a video camera aimed at one pair.)

I turn off the H4 and aim for the dam. I saw a buck but has dashed into the bush before I could identify it. There was also a rhino, warthogs, wildebeeste, a giraffe and lots of zebra.

I then came across two ostriches. There's a certain spot in the Kruger where I always see ostriches, but other people see them elsewhere. Today, on my lucky day, I see them too.

At the dam, there's one car in the best position. They are having their breakfast (at 0643). I mention to them that yesterday there were lions on the other side of the water to the right, and ask them whether they have seen any today. No. I think they are from Birmingham, but don't find out as that's the end of our conversation.

I can see a lot of hippos and one elephant. The hippos are very active today. There aren't many birds about. And I didn't see many here yesterday too. Strange.

After about 20 minutes, they leave, and I move my car to their spot. I can see all round the dam now. I can't see any lions where they were yesterday. After another 10 minutes, it all happens: an elephant turns up on the far left (the other one left almost imeediately after I arrived); Lots of buffalo arrive on the left; some baboons arrive to the right of the elephant; I here the noise of lions; more buffalo arrive to splosh in the water; I see two lions on the far bank to the right (where they were yesterday). I watch all this pandemonium for a while, and then leave. There are three other cars. I reposition alongside the one that arrived just after me, and tell them quietly that there are two lions on the opposite bank if they reposition their car to where I was they will see them.

On the way to Lower Sabie, I see a male warthog chasing the babies of a family of warthogs (two adults, three babies). After a while, the nuisance warthog goes away.

When I get to the river south of Lower Sabie, with my binoculars I can see 11 yellowbilled storks, 3 openbilled storks and 2 grey herons.

At another point, there are numerous cars at different points wathcing the elephants in the water. From the car in front of me, I hear a woman say leopard. I draw alongside the car, and see says there's a leopard on the far bank behind one of the elephants. I find it. It suddenly starts dahing for some impalas but when we next find the leopard, it hasn't killed anything. Later we loose it. I drive further on and see if I can see it from a river crossing. I meet the other car again. We don't find it. Even though many were wathcing the elephants, I don't think many saw the leopard. It all happened so quickly.

I took a different rout back from Lower Sabie but didn't see much. However, I did see some kudus.

Quite an eventful morning: a pack of 6 rhinos, leopards in two places, and two sets of lions.

There doesn't seem to be a sightings board at Crocodile Bridge which is an inconvenience. However, the one I saw this morning at Lower Sabie indicated that there was a cheetah and wild dogs not far away from the camp. I got the impression that they were on the road from Croc Bridge to Berg-en-dal. So for this afternoon's game drive I see if I can see anything in this area.

But I don't. Although I'm travelling slowly with cars passing me, I don't see anything for 42 minutes. It's a giraffe. Later I see 5 female kudus, a warthog and 3 warthogs. That's what I see in 2 hours.

At 15K from Croc Bridge, I get stopped by a ranger at a road junction. He asks me where I'm going. I had heard on the radio that the bridge just outside the park at Croc Bridge had been closed because the water level was too high. The ranger was diverting people who were leaving the park to Malelane Gate, I thought to myself that it woukl be very dark by the time they got there.

At about 1810, I'm 4K from Croc Bridge. There is plenty of time left, and so I'm aiming to take the short side road that overlooks the Gezantfombi dam. I did the same thing last night and there was quite a few birds/animals at the dam.

However, before I get to the turnoff for the side road to the dam, I see three cars coming towards me. Then they turn to their right onto the back road to Lower Sabie. I think that's odd. It's nearly time to return to camp, and these three vehicles are on a road where they'll have to turn round to get back to camp on time. I think they must be going to see something. So I follow.

And needless to say about 1K along this road, they stop on the right hand side. They say they can see 4 lions. I see 3 of them. That's my thirs set of lions today.

I go to the Gezantfombi dam but time is short and so I don't notice anything other than a crocodile.

On my way back to the camp, I get stopped again by a ranger who is ending vehicles by another route to Malelane Gate.

Back at the camp, I speak to my new neighbours asking whether them where this bridge is. They think it's not visible from where we are. There is a weir near to our huts, and the water is a lot higher than lunchtime.

We exchange details of what we've seen today. This evening they have seen a cheetah at the Gezantfombi dam. Grhh. If I hadn't followed those three cars to see the lion, I might have seen the cheetah too.

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